Last week, we headed down to check out one of Vancouver’s newest little hubs for some culinary feasting, The Abbey (117 West Pender Street).
Industry pro and chef/owner Andrey Durbach and co-owner Chris Stewart welcomed us to a family style feast at what they’re calling a “progressive tavern”, and let’s just say we weren’t disappointed – rather, we were closer to ecstatic.
First off, The Abbey’s location couldn’t be better. It’s central to the International Village (movie theatre), on the fringe of Gastown and Chinatown (for cocktails), and within walking distance to Rogers Arena and BC Place (games and concerts).
The old home of Wild Rice has been transformed and infused with chic new booth seating, a sleek long bar, and fancy, colourful artwork (courtesy of the old Boneta).
When we walked in around 7pm the room was already abuzz (no doubt helped by the fact that they serve up a killer happy hour). Boisterous conversation abounded – as did some great 80s and 90s tunes that put us in the mood to eat.
And did we ever.
Our seat for the night: a communal table at one of the restaurant’s two private dining rooms – great to keep in mind with the holiday season upon us. With room for about 30 or so, it somehow manages to be both cozy and open at the same (featuring a sweeping view of the full restaurant below).
After sampling a few items from their Drinking Snacks menu (spiced nuts, warm olives, and chorizo), we were met by the first cluster of (many) plates for the night: beet, poached pear salad with hazelnut and ginger vinaigrette and tete du moine cheese, tuna tartare with spicy ponzu sauce (a hit with us), and stuffed mushroom caps (the perfect 1970s throwback appy).
Next up we enjoyed house made lobster ravioli accompanied by a cast iron pan of duck confit with stewed lentils served with sundried cherries in a mulled wine sauce.
A mouthful, indeed.
We managed to save room for a few spoonfuls of dessert: chocolate pot de crème with honeycomb nibs (who are we kidding, we ate the whole jar) before essentially rolling home to bed.
So the next time you’re in search of a cool place to party with a larger group, or if you’re tasked with finding a space that’ll impress colleagues for the inevitable Christmas gathering, we suggest booking The Abbey if you want to stand out.